, , , ,

Brexit on agenda as British Irish Chamber meets Brokenshire

IMG_5657
UK secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire discussed Brexit with chambers of commerce from across Ireland at a British Irish Chamber of Commerce working lunch at KPMG in Dublin yesterday.

The UK/EU departure talks were top of the agenda, with Brokenshire reiterating the UK government’s commitment to “frictionless trade on the island of Ireland” as he explained his government’s negotiating position.

“The British Irish Chamber is delighted to be hosting secretary of state Brokenshire in Dublin today,” said director general John McGrane. “Given the number of political engagements the secretary of state has to keep while in town, I think his availability to meet with business groups shows the importance of maintaining the vital trade network that exists on the island.

“The chamber welcomed the publication of last week’s papers and especially the commitment shown by the UK government to borderless trade on the island of Ireland and the continuation of the Common Travel Area,” he said. “While we are happy to see suggestions put forward to maintain both of these, we are still cautious about the feasibility of these proposals and will continue to positively engage with governments on both sides to ensure that a solution is found that works for all concerned.”

Trade between Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England is wroth €60bn per annum and supports 400,000 jobs according to the chamber, which represents businesses and employers with interests in both islands.

Shaun Murphy, managing partner of KPMG noted that “there is an urgent need to forge both practical and realistic solutions to address the Brexit issues of relevance to Ireland – North and South – and we welcome all efforts to resolve these matters in the interests of business across the island.”

,

Lidl leapfrogs Waitrose in UK supermarket league

Lidl
Lidl has beaten Waitrose into seventh place in the UK supermarket rankings, dominated as usual by Tesco.

The German discounter has achieved 5.2% of the Kantar Worldpanel market share, up from 4.5% this time last year – beating Waitrose, which remained static on 5.1%. The latest rankings are:

  1. Tesco
  2. Sainsbury’s
  3. Asda
  4. Morrisons
  5. Aldi
  6. The Co-operative
  7. Lidl
  8. Waitrose
  9. Iceland
  10. Ocado

“There is good news for the UK’s largest retailers, as the recovery which has so far defined 2017 continues apace,” explained Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel. “All four of Britain’s biggest grocers managed to grow sales for the fifth consecutive period, a run of collective success not seen since 2013.

“However, this welcome period of sustained growth hasn’t been enough to entirely offset pressure from the discounters: the big four now account for just 69.3% of the UK grocery market – down from 76.3% five years ago – and that looks set to fall further in the coming months.”

The latest data covers a 12-week period ending 13 August, with 10 million households visiting Lidl to stock up on alcohol and fresh produce in particular.

, ,

Unemployment and zero-hour contracts down in latest jobs data

office-for-national-statistics-logo_0
The UK employment rate is at its highest level since comparable records began in 1971, according to the latest data released by the Office of National Statistics today.

The ONS also revealed that 20,000 fewer people are on zero-hour contracts compared to this time last year, with 883,000 depending on zero-hour employment for their main income.

“Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between January to March 2017 and April to June 2017, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell,” the ONS said.

The employment rate is at 75.1% and the unemployment rate is now 4.4%, down from 4.9% last year and the lowest since 1975.

“Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.1%, both including and excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier,” the data revealed.

There are now 32.07m people at work in the UK, 125,000 more than in the first three months of the year and 338,000 more than this time last year.

 

 

, , , ,

Evo Payments and AA announce new partnership and brand

Brian Cleary, managing director, Evo Ireland and UK.

Dublin-headquartered Evo Payments international has announced a deal with the AA in the UK to provide card pay technology to UK merchants under the new CardPay brand.

The deal is the first of its kind for the AA, which is moving into B2B financial services on the back of high consumer trust research rankings.

The service will be managed from Evo’s Dublin HQ where it operates under the BOI Payment Acceptance brand, a collaboration between Evo and Bank of Ireland.

“We are very excited to announce this new partnership with the AA,” said Evo Ireland and UK managing director Brian Cleary. “BOIPA only entered the payments market in early 2015, and in a very short space of time we have been hugely successful in delivering a superior payment service and value proposition for businesses across Ireland.

“From small corner shops and online traders to some of the country’s large corporates, Irish business owners have been quick to recognise the obvious benefits of our products, including the ability to process more transactions, experience reduced banking costs, and less exposure to theft and the misappropriation of cash.

“Applying these same principles to the UK market felt like a logical next step, and in partnering with the AA we are joining up with a universally trusted brand that prides itself on its market-leading financial products and first-class customer service.”

The deal follows a jobs announcement earlier this year, with 50 new roles created amid a €9.1m investment and the opening of a new Irish HQ – bringing the company’s headcount to 120 serving Ireland, North America and Europe.

AA Financial Services director David Searle also welcomed the news.

“From roadside emergencies to home insurance and savings, the AA has always been trusted to stand by the consumer’s side, whatever happens, and campaign for a better deal. With nearly a fifth of our members also running a small business, we have for some time been looking at what we can do to help, particularly given the current economic climate.

“UK small businesses are the bedrock of the country’s economic confidence. The challenges many SMEs have with payment terminals, often relating to opaque pricing tariffs and surprise add-ons, need to be put right and the status quo needs to be disrupted.

“Our partnership with EVO allows us to become a force for change in the UK card payments market, to bring greater simplicity, trust, and fairness for our members – which is at the heart of everything we do.”

, ,

Revenue up at Paddy Power Betfair as CEO Corcoran departs

PaddyPowerBetfair
Merged betting giant Paddy Power Betfair has announced a 9% rise in revenues and the departure of CEO Breon Corcoran.

Corcoran was instrumental in the merger of the two former rivals, and will be replaced by Worldpay CEO Peter Jackson. “Breon has been talking with me and the Board about his long-term plans and accordingly, some months ago, we intensified our focus on executive succession planning to ensure an orderly transition,” explained chairman Gary McGann.

“While we will be sorry to see Breon leave, we are delighted to have appointed a candidate of Peter’s calibre to succeed him. The board’s unanimous selection of Peter follows a thorough global search for an individual with the skills and expertise to match the ambition of the group. The combination of his executive expertise together with his understanding of the Paddy Power Betfair business as a non-executive director uniquely positions Peter to assume the role of CEO and lead the group in its next stage of development.”

The group has also announced its H1 2017 results, headlined by a 9% growth in revenues to £827m and underlyling EBITDA up by 21% to £220m.

“We continue to make substantial investments to position Paddy Power Betfair as a structural winner in a dynamic and highly competitive market,” said Corcoran.

“The focus of this investment is to use technology to improve efficiency and minimise the cost of servicing our customers and to further enhance our customer proposition. The integration of our technology platforms is on track for completion by the end of the year and will bring significant benefits including increased quantity and pace of new product development in 2018 and beyond.

“Ahead of that, our customers and shareholders are already seeing benefits from efficiencies and investments. In the first half alone, customers enjoyed approximately £30m of extra value through better odds, more generous offers and new loyalty benefits. Operating efficiency and the annualisation of merger-related cost savings resulted in strong operating leverage in the period, with operating profit up 22%.”

, , , ,

Inflation at 2.6% as Bank of England leaves rates untouched

pound-414418_1920
The Bank of England has decided to leave interest rates at 0.25% in a 6-2 split decision, and announced that inflation is at 2.6% for June, up from 2.3% in March.

Governor Mark Carney also outlined an analysis of Brexit and options available to the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). “The UK economy is beginning the process of adjusting to a new, as yet uncertain, economic relationship with the European Union,” he said today.

“Monetary policy cannot prevent the weaker real incomes likely to accompany the move to new trading arrangements with the EU, but it can influence how this hit to incomes is distributed between job losses and price rises. And it can support UK households and businesses as they adjust to such profound change.”

Carney also said that markets, households and businesses reacted in different ways to the referendum outcome, with markets expecting poorer UK economic performance, households being slow to react but eventually slowing their spending, and businesses investing “less aggressively”.

“In the MPC’s central projection, GDP growth remains sluggish in the near term as the squeeze on households’ real incomes continues to weigh on consumption,” he said. “Growth then picks up to just above its reduced – or modest – potential rate as net trade and business investment firm up and consumption growth gradually recovers in line with modestly rising household incomes.”

The MPC expects inflation to peak around 3% in October and to remain around 2.75% until early next year, Carney also predicted.

“Conditional on the current market curve, which implies that bank rate will rise by half a percentage point over the next three years, inflation is projected to remain a little above the target at the end of the forecast period – an overshoot that reflects entirely the effects of the referendum-related fall in sterling.”

 

, , , ,

GDP growth and interest-rate rise predicted amid positive UK forecast

coins-163517_1280
GDP growth of almost 2%, an interest rate hike in Q1 2018 and inflation easing to 2% in 2019 are all part of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research’s latest forecast for the UK economy.

Predicting 1.7% GDP growth this year and 1.9% in 2018, the NIESR has brought forward its prediction of an interest rate increase from Q2 2019 to Q1 2018, a “modest withdrawal of some of the additional stimulus that was injected into the economy after the 2016 EU referendum,” it said. The think tank also predicted an elimination of the fiscal deficit in 2022, and a peaking of debt to ration in 2018/19.

“The economy has slowed each year since 2014 and according to our forecast, 2017 will mark the trough for GDP growth,” it said in its analysis. Thereafter, we envisage a modest recovery that takes economic growth to a level that is close to potential.”

It also described movement in the UK’s labour market as “puzzling”, with employment growing, unemployment dropping and wage growth remaining “muted”.

, ,

7,449 tonnes of gold are in London’s vaults

gold-163519_1280
Almost 7,500 tonnes of gold and 32,000 tonnes of silver are stored in eight London vaults, according to figures released by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

The figures represent the first public attempt to calculate precious metal holdings in the capital, with 7,449 tonnes of gold equating to $298 billion and 32,078 tonnes of silver working out at $19 billion – around 596,000 gold bars and 1,069,255 silver bars.

“How much gold and silver is there in the London vaults? It’s a question that I’ve been asked since I joined the market a decade ago and one I’m sure that was asked many years before,” said LBMA CEO Ruth Crowell.

“Today I’m delighted not only to give a meaningful answer, but also to announce that these numbers will be available monthly from now on. After many years of work, I’m extremely grateful to all the vaults and the members of the market for who have made this day possible. Thank you for all your ongoing support.”

Over $18bn in gold was cleared via London on average each day in March this year, making the capital the biggest gold-trading centre in the world.